If there’s one thing vegetarians are obsessed with, it’s “meat”—emphasis on the quote marks. Scroll through any vegetarian- or vegan-focused Pinterest or Instagram account and you’ll see the evidence—coconut bacon, eggplant jerky, and lentil meatballs are everywhere. Carrot Lox is the latest, and surely not the last, to arrive on the scene.
If you’ve ever eaten lox, you’ll know that it has a very distinctive flavor and texture. And when I saw photos of smoked salmon (another word for lox)’s plant-based cousin cropping up on my feeds, I was positive, just positive, that carrot lox was nothing more than what I like to call an Instagram illusion. You know ‘em—foods that look super cool in photos, but don’t hold up taste-wise (unicorn anything, anyone?). It seemed impossible that one might mimic the feel and taste of smoked salmon with a crunchy, sweet root veggie.
So when my CSA farm share presented me with three perfectly plump carrots, I knew exactly what to do with them.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I adapted this recipe from Carrots for Dinner. Ya know what? It was silky, salty, savory, and pretty darned lox like.
If you’re taking the fish out of your diet, can’t eat smoked fish, or are just looking for clever ways to add more produce to your plate, I highly recommend giving carrot lox a try. The process took a few days, but was easy and fun. Get started on it now to enjoy some at your Yom Kippur break the fast, or just for brunch this weekend.
2 cups coarse sea salt
3 large unpeeled carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil (you may need more)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium oven-safe glass dish, just the right size to accommodate the carrots, pour one cup of sea salt. Rinse and scrub the carrots, and place into the dish on top of the salt. Carrots should only be touching salt and not the bottom of the glass. Pour more salt over the carrots, covering them until they are buried completely. Place in the oven for ninety minutes.
Carefully remove the baking dish and empty carrots and salt out onto a baking sheet. The salt will have hardened around the carrots. When it has cooled, crack the salt open and remove the carrots (it will feel like you’re uncovering fossils!). With your fingers or a knife, carefully peel the skin off the carrots. Using a mandoline or a knife, slice the carrots into thin strips.
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, liquid smoke, and apple cider vinegar. Place carrot strips into a glass container with a lid, and pour mixture on top. Cover the dish, and place in the refrigerator for at least two days. If at any point the mixture looks dry, add a bit more olive oil and toss.
When you’re ready to serve, remove the dish from fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
Give it a try and let us know what you think. And hey, if you’ve tried anything “unicorn” that is more than just an Instagram illusion, we’d love to hear about it.